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A few reviews

TM2YC

Staff Member
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I got the Arrow Hellraiser blu-ray boxset (the first 3) for Christmas. I'd maybe seen the first a long time ago...?

Hellraiser (1987)
The decision to switch the film's setting from London? to New York? in post-production was not a good choice. The bad dubbing of the supporting cast is unintentionally hilarious, the almost total absence of exterior establishing footage (that would've been too blatantly English I guess?) makes the film feel small.  Even then, there is no disguising that the house where 95% of the movie occurs is a characteristically English suburban design (very like my Gran's old house :D ). I found it quite distracting but also fascinating. All that aside, the Cenobite costume designs are totally iconic and brilliantly and darkly imaginative, as are the stomach-churning and realistic makeup jobs.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
The 'Bride of Frankenstein' of this series, with Dr. Channard instead of Dr. Pretorius and Clare Higgins character resurrected in similar bandages. The plot stretches credibility and logic, taking place exactly where the last film finished but then almost instantly going in a slightly different direction. Setting half of the film in an M.C. Esher style hell-scape was ambitious but unwise when they'd only got a limited budget that stretched to a couple of corridors and one matte-painting. The development of the Pinhead character was excellent, even eliciting some sympathy and warmth. Probably a slight improvement on the first.

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)
This looks a lot more high gloss and less confined than the first two films but it's a much more conventional Horror film. Some of the disturbing edginess is lost, even though the gore is dialed up a notch. The characters are initially engaging but never really go anywhere after Pinhead is resurrected. All the Pinhead backstory material was great as was Doug Bradley's performance as his alter-ego Captain Elliott Spencer. The least of the three in my opinion.

 

jrWHAG42

Well-known member
Faneditor
I watched the first Hellraiser sometime in 2018 or 2017 or 2016, I forget which, for my father's podcast. I absolutely loved it, and I've been meaning to watch the others, especially 2, 3, 4, and Hell World.
 

TM2YC

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The Entertainer (1960)
Seamlessly intertwining resonant themes, the painfully slow end to the career of Archie Rice, a British Music-Hall/Vaudeville comedian (Laurence Olivier), the ruin of his finances, his sham marriage and the dissolution of his family, the fading glamour of a seaside resort and the recent 1956 Suez-Crisis (the symbolic end of the British Empire). The ghosts of England's past are cleverly evoked with the casting of the charming and lovely Roger Livesey as Archie's more successful father (who was symbolic of the decline of Empire in the Colonel Blimp movie). Everybody loves him, even if he's a silly old fool because he reminds people of better days, Archie just reeks of failure. Sometimes Olivier can be very good and sometimes a bit hammy but he is on incredible form here playing a crumpled, defeated man who faces the word with a showbiz smile but is "dead behind the eyes" (the character's own words). The soundtrack is full of half heard, half remembered old Music-Hall songs, leaving the viewer in a constant state of nostalgia for something past. A work of quiet genius.

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Babylon (1980)
A great snapshot of Working-Class Jamaican 2nd-generation immigrant culture in London's Brixton area. Despite the micro budget and the anti-establishment edge of the subject, multi-Oscar winning Cinematographer Chris Menges makes it all look very classy. Aswad's Brinsley Forde stars as "Blue" a Sound system MC struggling against racism and general deprivation. Amazing soundtrack too.

 

Duragizer

Well-known member
Neglify said:
Hellraiser 1 & 2 = Awesome
Hellraiser 4 = Not bad
Hellraiser 3 & 5-10 = Awful

I found Hellraiser III watchable, but then that could just be because of Terry Farrell. Everything becomes 30% more watchable when she's on-screen.
 

TM2YC

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Duragizer said:
Neglify said:
Hellraiser 1 & 2 = Awesome
Hellraiser 4 = Not bad
Hellraiser 3 & 5-10 = Awful

I found Hellraiser III watchable, but then that could just be because of Terry Farrell. Everything becomes 30% more watchable when she's on-screen.

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Totally, which did make this scene unintentionally hilarious as her character is giving a speech about not wanting to be successful by dressing in sexy clothes... oh really :D .
 

TM2YC

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Apostle (2018)
Netflix-financed post 'The Raid' Victorian Horror film from Welsh Writer/Director Gareth Evans. At first you think this going to be like 'The Wicker Man', then it brings in flavours of 'The Crucible', Ken Russell's 'The Devils', Martin Scorsese's 'Silence' and Francis Ford Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now', before finally descending into 'The Evil Dead' and 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' level blood-drenched madness. The Cinematography evokes Sepia daguerreotypes, the expert pacing raises constantly in intensity and some of the grim gore would make Torquemada himself wince. In a year of well reviewed Horror films, this one doesn't seem to have attracted the same attention for some reason.


Brexit: The Uncivil War (2019)
Channel 4/HBO TV-movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Rory Kinnear as the two men running the official Leave and Remain campaigns during the 2016 referendum. It takes a similar approach to 'The Big Short', playing fast and loose with details in the name of an entertaining narrative. It's satisfying, humerous and depressing to relive the whole thing in 2-hours.


Creed II: Cruise Control (2018)
Everything fans of the first film will be looking for... just not done quite as well somehow. Ryan Coogler's assured Direction was a big factor in why 'Creed' was so good but new Director Steven Caple Jr. doesn't have the same flair. This sequel needed Coogler to take this decent script and excellent cast and give it that final sparkle. The big rumble was an emotional rush, aided by Ludwig Göransson's well judged score and I almost, almost blubbed at the end. Who would've guessed that Dolph Lundgren would give the best performance.

 

TM2YC

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Dumplin' (2018)
Netflix's 'Dumplin' is like this year's 'Ladybird' but it's more down-to-earth, less hipster-quirky and with a bigger heart. There is no villain, or even a single mean person in the movie. For a story set in the usually painfully cliched and angry genre of coming-of-age/high-school movies, this is clearly a deliberate creative choice. The "antagonist" is just self-doubt and that's enough to cause all the drama. It's about loving yourself and appreciating your friends and family for who they are. The Soundtrack is provided by fantastic Dolly Parton songs, old and new. This left me with a big smile on my face and a little tear in the eye. It might be one of my favourites of 2018.

 

TM2YC

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The Terminator (1984)
I used to watch a TV taping of this (with Director Alex Cox introducing it) on a loop as a teen but this was the first time I've seen it in years (on blu-ray). A masterpiece of Directing, Writing and Editing from James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd. I noticed that Paul Winfield's police Lieutenant character is fully fleshed out in his first shot, before he evens opens his mouth just by the way he reacts to something in the frame (such efficiency). I wish the sequels had maintained the visceral and violent reality of this first entry... in fact I kinda wish there were no sequels.

 

TM2YC

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A Star is Born (2018)
I was 100% invested and absorbed in the rise but the fall started to lose me a bit. The first half where Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are playing this really authentic sounding and emotionally real rock 'n' roll, begins to move towards plastic glitter Pop in the second half. I was confused for a time because I was unsure if I was supposed to be thinking this is gaudy, manufactured and soulless (and the characters would think this), or if I was supposed to think this is Gaga's career going from strength-to-strength? (it was the latter). Cooper's visual Direction was basic (the cinematography was gorgeous though) but his handling of actors and taste for raw performances was masterful. He really made me love and care for these characters. A great first film overall.

Dammit, is there nothing Bradley Cooper can't do? Handsome, a brilliant Actor and Director, funny, can make people cry when playing a cybernetically-enhanced CGI Raccoon and has the voice of a drunken hobo angel.

 

ArtisDead

Well-known member
Neglify said:
Hellraiser 1 & 2 = Awesome
Hellraiser 4 = Not bad
Hellraiser 3 & 5-10 = Awful

I completely agree. With all things considered, there are places the first two films fall short. Production, sets and acting come to mind as mentioned previously by TM2YC.

But the story...can you imagine what could have been? In the hands of a producer with larger budget and better actors?

One can dream...

The first two are still close to the top of my list of horror movies. You can do what you like with all if the rest.
 

ArtisDead

Well-known member
TM2YC said:
Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)
Fascinating yet flawed Documentary insight into the internal world of Kurt Cobain and how his life informed the lyrics and music of Nirvana. Visually exploring his diary entries was a valid idea, cutting up old movies and home videos to fit his audio tapes was a valid idea, animation was a valid idea too, talking-head interviews was an uninspired but viable idea as well... but they should have decided on one style, or perhaps mixed them up a lot more. It is somehow both too vague on biographical structure and yet not abstract enough to work fully as an introspective mood piece. Still, if you like Cobain's music, I'm sure this will give you a few new perspectives on it.


Agreed! My brother lives in Forks, Washington and played in a band. He actually was friends with Kurt and Krist while they were scraping. The picture the media paints is never the same as the diorama that reality paints.

It's good to see a documentary get close to the truth. Check out Soaked in Bleach.
 

TM2YC

Staff Member
Donor
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The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
A remake of the wonderful 1924 Douglas Fairbanks Silent film (which I marginally prefer), a precursor to the 1960s historical films of Ray Harryhausen and a heavy influence on Disney's 'Aladdin'. The dotty old Sultan and his evil Grand Vizier Jaffar are lifted wholesale, along with several other elements, including musical motifs. There is also a hint of 'Temple of Doom' when the eponymous thief is robbing a magic jewel from a giant statue (including a giant spider battle). If you like any of those sorts of adventures, then you'll have fun with this.

Michael Powell Directed a large chunk of the film (I think?) but five other Directors also worked on it. Powell would cast this film's star, the Indian actor Sabu in his later acclaimed 1947 film 'Black Narcissus'. I didn't think the pastel colour pallet fully exploited the possibilities of Technicolor like Powell's later films (this was early days). Some of the matte paintings and model shots are very fine and easily still hold up. Some of the chroma key shots hold up less well but this was the first film to use the process I understand.


Oh look the whole thing is on youtube:

 

bionicbob

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Donor
Faneditor
TM2YC said:
The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
A remake of the wonderful 1924 Douglas Fairbanks Silent film (which I marginally prefer), a precursor to the 1960s historical films of Ray Harryhausen and a heavy influence on Disney's 'Aladdin'. The dotty old Sultan and his evil Grand Vizier Jaffar are lifted wholesale, along with several other elements, including musical motifs. There is also a hint of 'Temple of Doom' when the eponymous thief is robbing a magic jewel from a giant statue (including a giant spider battle). If you like any of those sorts of adventures, then you'll have fun with this.




Oh look the whole thing is on youtube:


Absolutely LOVE this movie!!!!  Saw for the first time when I was 7 years old, and still enjoy it thoroughly to this day.  My greatest joy was introducing it to my daughter when she was 6, and seeing her fall in love with the same wonder and magic.  It is still one of favourite movies to watch together.  :D
 

ArtisDead

Well-known member
bionicbob said:
TM2YC said:
The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
A remake of the wonderful 1924 Douglas Fairbanks Silent film (which I marginally prefer), a precursor to the 1960s historical films of Ray Harryhausen and a heavy influence on Disney's 'Aladdin'. The dotty old Sultan and his evil Grand Vizier Jaffar are lifted wholesale, along with several other elements, including musical motifs. There is also a hint of 'Temple of Doom' when the eponymous thief is robbing a magic jewel from a giant statue (including a giant spider battle). If you like any of those sorts of adventures, then you'll have fun with this.

Absolutely LOVE this movie!!!!  Saw for the first time when I was 7 years old, and still enjoy it thoroughly to this day.  My greatest joy was introducing it to my daughter when she was 6, and seeing her fall in love with the same wonder and magic.  It is still one of favourite movies to watch together.  :D

WOW! One of the first adventure films that I ever saw! My MeMaw had an old...get this...video disc of it (they were in a plastic case and looked like records) in glorious Technicolor.

We used to beg her to let us watch it. We usually had to do some mundane chore to earn the privelege like scraping the cow manure out of the stalls in the barn. It was always worth it. Best time we ever had scraping manure.

An old favorite for sure but the recollection is making me smell cows for some reason.
 

TM2YC

Staff Member
Donor
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Die Nibelungen (1924)
Fritz Lang's Silent Epic is one continuous nearly 5-hour narrative but is divided into two almost equal parts. The 1st half, 'Siegfried' is definitely a silent film for Tolkien fans. The titular hero strides the land forging legendary weapons, acquiring magic powers, defeating mighty foes with the aid of enchanted items, seizing vast golden Dwarf treasures and slaying a dragon (a full-size fire-breathing articulated Dragon puppet!). The 2nd part 'Kriemhilde's Revenge' is perhaps more influential on 'Game of Thrones' than Tolkien, with Siegfried's wife Kriemhilde in the Daenerys Targaryen role as she leaves her home and seeks military power to wreak bloody revenge on her former Kingdom. We have a fictionalized Attila the Hun in the Khal Drogo spot, who is also portrayed as a barbarian horse master. The fire and smoke drenched slaughter of the final battle reminded me of the way death and madness are shot in Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece 'Ran'. Gottfried Huppertz original score is magnificent in 5.1 and I kept thinking it was going to break into the Batman theme ;) .

Unfortunately the pace of editing in 'Die Nibelungen' is glacially slow and explanatory and dialogue intertitles are few and far between. I imagine German audiences intimately familiar with the 'Nibelungenlied' myth could fill in the gaps. In the same way that an Englishman like myself would be able to understand a Silent film of the Robin Hood myth just by the visuals. I'd wager you could cut the film down by a couple of hours, add more intertitles and still not cut any scenes. 'Die Nibelungen' was well worth seeing once but I doubt I'd watch it again.


The Legacy of the Nibelungen (2011)
The 'Die Nibelungen' blu-ray came with a feature-length Documentary on it's making, restoration and cultural impact. I was fascinated by all the little clips of the myriad different versions, multiple negatives (each a unique cut), shortened cuts with more intertitles for international audiences, versions with different tints, versions with Wagner music and later talkie reworkings. It's possible I might have enjoyed one of these other versions more than the scrupulously faithful official version restored and assembled by the Murnau Foundation. The film also explains Goebbels' adoration of the film and it's later adoption by the Nazis as something quintessentially Germanic. I think I enjoyed this Doc more than the actual film.
 
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